Youth Livestock Program

Youth Livestock banner image

The 4-H Youth Livestock Program is the largest animal science project area enabling youth to develop their interest in beef cattle, sheep, meat goats, and swine in their 4-H projects. Youth learn about selection, care, and feeding of livestock, animal health, and importance of good record keeping. Emphasis for these projects continues to be focused on life skill development.

This program offers competitions such as livestock judging and stockmen's contests as well as livestock shows at the county, district, and state levels.



2023 Save the Dates:


State Fair of Virginia Livestock Exhibitors:

  • June 29 - Nomination Portal opens       
  • July 21 - Last day to request DNA Envelope/Tags to be mailed 
  • July 31 - Nomination Portal closes at 5:00 PM  -  Nomination forms and DNA samples must also be postmarked by this date
  • August 1 - ALL Registered Breeding Animals, Registered Market Hogs and Registered Market Beef must be registered in the name of the exhibitor  (Date of Issue by respective Breed Association, NOT Date of Sale)
  • July 10 Entry System opens
  • August 21 Entry System closes at 5:00PM

Full details on the State Fair of Virginia Youth Livestock Show page


A skillathon contest is a comprehensive test of livestock knowledge including identification classes of meats, feeds, equipment and breeds; evaluation classes of meats, hay, sheep, swine, and beef; a knowledge-based quiz; and an applied team problem.

Skillathon Contest Basics

Skillathon Contest Resources

Previous Skillathon Contest Materials

Previous Skillathon Contest Results

Livestock judging contests consist of market and breeding animals, including beef, meat goats, sheep, and swine. Participants rank the animals in the classes, answer questions on chosen classes, and deliver sets of oral reasons from memory.

Livestock Judging Contest Resources

Previous Livestock Judging Contest Materials

Previous Livestovck Jodging Contest Results

Meats judging contests consist of retail meat identification and judging of retail meat cuts and carcasses. Retail meat identification consists of identifying the species, primal cut, retail cut and cookery method. Judging requires the participants to rank the meat in the classes, answer questions on chosen classes, and deliver sets of oral reasons from memory.

Meats Judging Contest Resources

Previous Contest Materials

Previous Contest Results

Youth Poultry Judging offers youth the ability to rank classes of production hens and market broilers, and give oral reasons from memory on one or two of the classes. They grade ready-to-cook broiler carcasses, turkey carcasses, candled eggs, broken-out eggs and exterior eggs. They are also asked to identify mixed broiler parts.

The youth cattle working contest develops youth skills in animal management and handling. Working as a team, youth efficiently process three stocker calves utilizing Beef Quality Assurance guidelines. Regional competitions are held in the spring throughout the state; the top teams from each region then compete at the State Youth Cattle Working Contest held in conjunction with the Junior Beef Roundup.

Read more about the Youth Cattle Working Contests.

The Livestock Quiz Bowl is a competition that tests the knowledge youth possess regarding beef, sheep, swine, and meat goat topics. Teams compete in a single elimination format and use a buzzer to signify that they would like to attempt to answer a question.  Oral answers are given to questions posed by a moderator. Each match has an individual, team and toss-up question round.

Quiz Bowl Resources

Previous Quiz Bowl Results

Junior Beef Roundup (Virginia Beef Expo)

The Junior Beef Roundup is held in conjunction with the Virginia Beef Expo. This event is typically held the third weekend in April and features a variety of contests and activities for youth in the Commonwealth. In addition to youth breed shows, commercial heifer, and prospect steer shows, the Junior Beef Roundup will host the State Stockmen's Contest, State Beef Ambassador Contest, and State Youth Cattle Working Contest. 

More about the Junior Beef Roundup »

State Fair of Virginia

A culminating event for youth livestock projects, this event allows youth to exhibit their cattle, sheep, meat goats, and swine and compete in showmanship.

Date: Wednesday, September 27 – Sunday, October 1, 2023
Location: The Meadow Event Park - Doswell, VA
Contact: Katherine Carter- (540) 231-2257  Scott Greiner- (540) 231-9159
Schedule: (coming soon)
Additional information: State Fair of Virginia official web site

More about the State Fair of Virginia

4-H Dog Projects Educational Clinic

A day of learning about 4-H dog project opportunities including clubs, competitive events, shows, and more.


Youth Beef Field Day


Judge Like a Champion Livestock Judging Camp

Youth for the Quality Care of Animals (YQCA)

Youth for the Quality Care of Animals (YQCA) is a national multi-species quality assurance program for youth ages 8 to 21.  An in-person YQCA workshop requires complete attendance. YQCA is the result of a collaborative effort between states that have previously offered multi-species youth livestock quality assurance programs, the National Pork Board’s Youth PQA Plus program and representatives from other national livestock groups. YQCA is designed as an annual education and certification program focused on food safety, animal well-being and character awareness for youth ages 8 to 21 producing and/or showing pigs, beef cattle, dairy cattle, sheep, goats, market rabbits, and poultry. The program has been designed by extension specialists and national livestock program managers to ensure it is accurate, current and relevant to the needs of the animal industry and shows and is appropriate for youth.

Youth Poultry Convention

The Youth Poultry Convention offers both competition and education for those attending. Youth rank classes of production hens and give oral reasons from memory on one of the classes. They grade ready-to-cook broiler carcasses, turkey carcasses, candled eggs, broken-out eggs and exterior eggs. They are also asked to identify mixed broiler parts. The competitions are followed by fun and educational events including a youth poultry carnival for juniors and job shadowing and production tours for seniors. In 2016, youth educational tracks were available to all participants featuring a Live Production Track, Post-Production Track, Consumer Advocacy Track, and a Food Challenge Track. more>>

Resource Home

  • Beef
  • Meat Goats
  • Poultry
  • Swine
  • Sheep
  • Carcass Information
  • Meats Judging
  • Livestock Judging
  • Stockmen's Contest
  • Quiz Bowl



Katherine Carter
Extension Youth Animal Science Specialist
(540) 231-2257

Jennifer Redifer
Extension Program Associate-Youth Animal Science
(540) 231-6345

Scott Greiner
(540) 231-9159


Virginia 4-H Livestock Programs Endowment

The Virginia 4-H Foundation is spearheading the advancement of the Virginia 4-H Youth Livestock Programs Endowment. 4-H livestock programming is funded through a combination of private gifts, endowment income, gifts in kind, and participant fees.

More information>>